The Best Treatment for Autism in the World

Explore the best treatment for autism in the world, from ABA to ESDM, and empower your child's journey.

judah schiller
Judah Schiller
May 22, 2024
Published On
May 22, 2024

Effective Autism Therapies

When it comes to autism, there are several effective therapies that can help autistic individuals navigate their world. It's important to note that therapy options should be based on factors such as availability, cost, and the abilities, challenges, and interests of the autistic person, rather than seeking a cure for autism [1]. Among the best treatments for autism in the world are speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy can greatly aid autistic children with a variety of issues. This includes acquiring spoken words, asking and answering questions, using appropriate prosody and body language, and learning to recognize jokes and teasing [1].

Speech therapy aims to improve the child's communication skills, enabling them to express their needs and engage with those around them. It can also help children understand the nuances of conversation and social cues, which can be challenging for those with autism.

It's crucial to remember that each child is unique. Therefore, the strategy and techniques used in speech therapy should be personalized to meet the specific needs and challenges of the individual.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is another invaluable tool for supporting children with autism. This type of therapy can address sensory challenges, interactive play skills, cooperative interaction, and more [1].

Occupational therapists work with children to develop the skills necessary for everyday tasks. This could include improving fine motor skills for activities like dressing and eating, or enhancing social and cognitive skills for successful interactions with peers.

These therapists are usually provided through the school and/or paid for through insurance. This makes occupational therapy a widely accessible option for families seeking support for their children with autism.

In conclusion, both speech and occupational therapy can play a pivotal role in supporting autistic children. By addressing specific challenges and building on the child's strengths, these therapies can significantly improve the quality of life for children with autism.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are a critical component of the best treatment for autism in the world. These therapy modalities, including Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) and animal therapy, aim to reinforce positive behaviors and diminish problematic ones.

Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA)

ABA is considered the "gold standard" of autism-specific treatment and is widely accepted for behavioral therapy in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This approach focuses on teaching skills crucial for success in school or work environments.

ABA involves tracking the child's progress in developing skills and using various strategies to reinforce wanted behaviors and reduce unwanted ones. It's a versatile and adaptable approach, with different types of ABA being utilized to address the unique needs of individuals with ASD.

Despite its prevalence, ABA can be controversial due to its emphasis on behavior modification. It's essential for caregivers to discuss with their healthcare provider to determine the most suitable options for their child [2].

Animal Therapy

Animal therapy, including therapeutic horseback riding and service dogs, is another effective behavioral therapy for children with autism. This form of therapy can have a significant positive impact on autistic children by helping them build confidence, expand social skills, and increase core body strength.

For instance, therapeutic horseback riding involves riding or interacting with horses to promote physical, occupational, and emotional growth. The rhythmic movement of the horse can improve balance, coordination, and core strength, while the unique bond between the child and the horse can foster emotional growth and social skills.

Service dogs, on the other hand, are trained to perform specific tasks that assist individuals with autism in their daily lives. They provide comfort, reduce anxiety, and can even help children with autism improve their social interactions.

While animal therapy can be beneficial, it's important to consider the child's comfort level and interest in animals. It's also crucial to work with qualified professionals to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the therapy.

In summary, both ABA and animal therapy are effective behavioral therapies for autism. The choice between them depends on the individual needs of the child and the family's preferences. The key is to find a therapy approach that is both effective and enjoyable for the child, promoting their overall well-being and developmental progress.

Early Intervention Strategies

When it comes to managing autism, early intervention is crucial. It can significantly improve the outcomes for the child and make a profound difference in their ability to navigate life successfully. Two innovative early intervention strategies are the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and Cord Blood Therapy.

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)

The Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) is a comprehensive behavioral early intervention approach for young children with autism, as young as 18 months old. According to a study conducted at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle, ESDM, which combines applied behavioral analysis (ABA) teaching methods with developmental 'relationship-based' approaches, has been found effective for improving IQ, language ability, and social interaction in very young children with autism.

Children aged 18-30 months with autism who received 20 hours a week of the intervention in the UW study showed significant improvements in IQ, receptive language, and overall skills. The average IQ improvement was approximately 18 points, and some children's diagnosis changed from autism to the milder condition of 'pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified' (PDD-NOS). In contrast, the comparison group that received community-based programs for therapy showed less improvement [3].

The intervention was delivered in the children's natural environment (home) by trained therapists and parents. This approach emphasizes parental involvement and the use of strategies to promote communication, social interaction, and play.

Cord Blood Therapy

Cord Blood Therapy is an experimental treatment for autism that utilizes a child's own umbilical cord blood. Results from a Phase I trial on this therapy showed that among 25 children ages 2 to 5, more than two-thirds appeared to show improvements in speech, socialization, and eye contact, as reported by parents and assessed by researchers.

Following these promising findings, Duke Health researchers are now leading a larger, controlled Phase II clinical trial to determine whether the initial suggestion of benefit to children with autism spectrum disorder through cord blood therapy can be replicated. The trial is expected to be complete in 2019.

Early intervention strategies like the ESDM and Cord Blood Therapy are part of the best treatment options for autism in the world. These strategies are based on the understanding that early and intensive interventions can make a significant difference in the lives of children with autism and their families.

Parental Involvement Importance

When discussing the best treatment for autism in the world, it is crucial to mention the influential role parents play in these treatments. Parental involvement has been identified as a vital component in the success of interventions for children with autism.

Impact on Treatment Success

Research has shown that involving parents in the treatment process leads to better outcomes. Parent-mediated interventions are effective in improving social communication and reducing autism-related symptoms in children. This involvement is significant in achieving the high success rates observed at specialized clinics, with success rates for children ranging from 95% to 98% [5].

Early intervention, which often involves parents, is a crucial aspect of autism treatment. Studies indicate that children who began intensive therapy by age 2 or 3 showed significant improvements compared to those who started later.

Role in Therapy Process

Parents play different roles in various therapies. In Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, recognized as the gold standard of treatment for autism, parents are often involved in analyzing and determining the function of behavior. They use positive strategies to address specific and immediate behavior issues and to teach socially significant skills.

In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), centered on the notion that thoughts and feelings impact our emotions and actions, parents can help modify their child's thought processes. Consequently, by changing thoughts, actions can be altered, leading to improved behavior and social interactions.

In conclusion, parental involvement is not just beneficial, but a necessary component in the most effective treatments for autism. By working hand-in-hand with trained professionals, parents can significantly improve the outcomes of autism therapy for their children.


Choosing the right therapy approach for autism can be a challenge for many parents. Two popular choices include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Each has its unique benefits and considerations.

Approach Overview

ABA therapy is recognized as the gold standard of treatment for autism due to its evidence-based effectiveness in improving social, language, academic, and adaptive behavior skills in children with autism. It's an individualized, evidence-based, and data-driven approach that focuses on observable and measurable behaviors and the environmental elements that influence them. Behavior is influenced by its consequences, and behavior analysts can produce positive behavioral change by systematically analyzing and modifying these consequences [8].

In contrast, CBT is an evidence-based, collaborative, and structured talk therapy that teaches techniques for managing emotions, communicating, conflict resolution, and coping with stress and anxiety. It focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Behavior is not determined by the environment but by the interpretation of the environment. CBT aims to identify negative thought patterns and false beliefs, test the narratives, and restructure them to lead to more positive behavioral outcomes [8].

Suitability for Different Cases

Both ABA and CBT are effective, evidence-based treatment approaches for autism. However, they are suited for different cases.

ABA specifically addresses behavioral challenges associated with developmental disorders, such as autism. It's most effective when begun before the age of 3 and is better suited for kids with more severe deficits or Level 3 Autism. ABA therapy involves three steps: identifying and defining target behaviors, methodically implementing techniques to teach adaptive behaviors, and continuously measuring and evaluating the process. The ultimate goal of ABA is to increase helpful behaviors and decrease harmful or impactful behaviors. It can target various skills such as self-care skills, attention span, academic skills, social skills, play skills, language skills, community involvement, safety skills, aggression, and self-injury [8].

On the other hand, CBT is adaptable for various mental health concerns for children with autism. It's best suited for higher-functioning children with strong language skills. This therapy approach is beneficial for helping children understand and manage their emotions, improve their communication skills, and learn effective strategies for resolving conflicts and coping with stress and anxiety.

In conclusion, both ABA and CBT are valuable treatment options for autism. The best treatment for autism in the world can vary greatly depending on the individual needs and circumstances of the child. It's important for parents to work closely with healthcare professionals to choose the most suitable therapy approach for their child.

Global Autism Perspectives

When it comes to the management and treatment of autism, it's essential to consider the global context. This involves understanding the impact of cultural influences and the access to support and services across different regions.

Cultural Influence

Autism research tends to focus on western high-income countries, leaving a gap in culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic instruments for autism in low- and middle-income settings, where the majority of the global autism population resides.

Cultural norms can greatly influence the interpretation and recognition of autism symptoms. For instance, lack of eye contact, a known symptom of autism, may be perceived as obedience rather than an atypical behavior in some cultures. This discrepancy in the interpretation of symptoms can affect the timing of seeking help and diagnosis [9].

Furthermore, cultural beliefs and attitudes towards autism can impact help-seeking behavior, with stigma potentially creating barriers to accessing support. For instance, explanatory models of autism may include biological or medical explanations, supernatural explanations, or a combination of both. The acceptability of these diagnostic labels can influence the approach towards diagnosis and treatment of autism [9].

Access to Support and Services

Access to appropriate support for autism can be hindered by various barriers such as affordability, availability, geographical accessibility, and acceptability of services. Limited financial means, shortages of trained personnel, and long travel distances can make it challenging for individuals and caregivers to access diagnosis and intervention services. Stigma and cultural beliefs can also affect the acceptability of services and influence help-seeking behavior [9].

The quality and quantity of information received by clinicians can also be influenced by cultural and contextual factors. Differences in treatment goals, explanatory models, and stigma can affect the transference of information between caregivers and clinicians, leading to misunderstandings and potentially impacting the diagnostic process.

Understanding these global perspectives on autism can not only inform the development of culturally appropriate screening and diagnostic instruments but also enhance the effectiveness of the best treatment for autism in the world. A broader perspective ensures that the unique needs of each individual are considered in their diagnosis and treatment plan.